Makes sense: Kao research uncovers skin’s sensory responses when cosmetics applied

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Kao’s new sensory response evaluation method shows strong potential in sensory-based cosmetics development. ©GettyImages
Kao’s new sensory response evaluation method shows strong potential in sensory-based cosmetics development. ©GettyImages
Kao has developed a new approach to better understand sensory changes when cosmetics are applied on the skin, paving the way for a new approach to product development.

Kao Corporation’s Sensory Science Laboratories and Skin Care Products Laboratories presented the research at the 17th Conference of the Japanese Society for Cognitive Psychology held in Kyoto.

“Kao intends to use this method for the design and assessment of cosmetics with the aim of developing products that provide a high sense of value and pleasing sensations when applied to the skin,”​ said the company in a press statement.

The details of this research were presented at the 17th Conference of the Japanese Society for Cognitive Psychology held in Kyoto earlier this year in May.

New approach inspired by food

According to Kao, consumers focus on several properties at the same time when evaluating the quality of cosmetic products.

One of the most important qualities consumers appraise is the tactile sensation when formulas are blended onto the skin.

The newly developed evaluation method utilised an eye-tracking interface based on the Temporal Dominance of Sensations (TDS), a method used to record sensations a person experiences while tasting food or drinks.

Normally panellists record sensations by pressing keys with corresponding attributes with TDS, but for this to work for cosmetics, Kao developed an eye-tracking computer interface, freeing fingers from ‘sensory distraction’.

“Attribute choice with an eye-tracking interface also eliminates the delays experienced with keyboard and oral selection, allowing the panellist to concentrate more completely on the sensations themselves and perform the evaluation in real time,” ​said Kao.

It added: “The trials so far performed have confirmed that an eye-tracking interface is well suited for the evaluation of second-by-second changes in sensation.​”

Observing temporal changes

Changes in sensation experienced moment-by-moment during the application of a cream-type test formula and a milky-lotion-type test formula were evaluated for six attributes including smoothness, and sense of absorption.

The six attributes were selected from a list of words expressing tactile sensations perceived during application of the cosmetics.

This method made it possible to evaluate the changes in sensation experienced moment-by-moment as cosmetics were applied.

The cream formula was observed to be described as ‘smooth’ in the first stage, followed by ‘good hold to skin’ that was maintained from a relatively early stage until the end of application.

The lotion on the other hand, was described as ‘smooth’ in the first stage, followed by ‘smooth’, ‘oily’ and ‘good hold to skin’.

Kao added that it also managed to achieve relatively high reproducibility with the same panellists.

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